Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: NASCAR Makes Post-Race Inspection Penalty Changes

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Sep. 22, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Its parking day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series.  No on-track activity for the two National-level series is scheduled for today.
Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Charlotte Riots Hit NASCAR Properties

Wednesday night saw the second night of rioting and protests in Charlotte in the wake of the police-involved shooting of Keith Scott.  Uptown Charlotte saw significant damage from rioters, including at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where a parking sign post was used to smash a window at the NASCAR NewsCenter.  Read more

NASCAR Announces Changes in Laser Inspection Penalties, Truex Jr. and Johnson Not Penalized

On Wednesday, NASCAR held an impromptu teleconference, where they announced plans to increase tolerances at the laser inspection station.  Martin Truex, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson will not be penalized for failing inspection at Chicagoland Speedway as a result.  Read more

Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle Hit with P3 Penalties for Lugnuts

After Wednesday's big announcement (see above), NASCAR released the regular penalty report.  In it, penalties were assessed for lugnuts and tailgate height, along with a series of warnings.  Read more

Have news for the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Editor's Note: Potts' Shots will return soon.
The Critic's Annex: American Ethanol E15 225
by Phil Allaway

Last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway was a rare four-day weekend of racing.  It's very tough to cover that much racing.  As a result, I chose to break up the critiques this week.  Couch Potato Tuesday covered the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series.  Today, we're covering the Camping World Truck Series' American Ethanol E15 225.  Tomorrow, as a mini-preview of Friday night's Crosley Brands 150 at Kentucky Speedway, we'll run a critique of the Scott 150 along with a couple of things to look out for in Kentucky.

Friday night was the last race before the Chase cutoff for the Camping World Truck Series.  Despite a situation that was barely more likely to see any chance than the XFINITY race on Saturday, FOX Sports 1 still went all-in on the Chase.  How did they did handle it?

NCWTS Setup was focused on two stories.  One was the John Hunter Nemechek-Cole Custer spat from Canadian Tire Motorsports Park two weeks ago earlier.  The other was the Chase.  I'm already on record as saying the Nemechek-Custer incident was ridiculous.  Also, I don't understand the interpretation that Custer tackled Nemechek.  Seeing that replay as much as I have, I want to argue the reverse.  Nemechek moved towards Custer, then tackled him in self-defense from Custer's attempt to tackle.  I think that's why NASCAR chose not to penalize anyone from that mess.

Then, we had the Chase.  FOX Sports 1 interviewed a number of drivers near the cutoff (Custer, Daniel Hemric, Timothy Peters, Cameron Hayley) on what they needed to do to get in (or stay in) the Chase.  I feel like I learned nothing from this.  Matt Tifft making his return Friday night from open brain surgery was a much bigger story to me.  Yes, he did get an interview, but it was 26 minutes into the Setup.

Tifft's return to the seat two months after the surgery is quite amazing.  Strange things happen when you start messing about in the head.  A family friend of mine had open brain surgery back in 2002 and ended up temporarily losing the use of one arm and one leg as a result.  It took a lot longer than two months for her to recover from that, but she did make a full recovery.  In regards to Tifft, he's a great story that should have gotten more play on the Setup.

The racing on Friday night was pretty good early on.  Spencer Gallagher was good enough early enough in runs to really take it to Kyle Busch.  Gallagher's a naturally aggressive racer (in addition to a real character), so it was good to see him take it to Busch.  Unlike Saturday, once Busch was able to settle in, he would drive away from the field.

The seventh caution was a little confusing to me.  According to the official results, the yellow was thrown for an accident involving Ben Rhodes.  All I could tell from watching the race was that a bunch of drivers were casually having contact on the backstretch.  No one spun or hit the wall.  It's like NASCAR overreacted or something.  There were no replays, so I found the situation really confusing.

The Chase focus continued in the race with constant point updates.   I haven't really talked about this, but the way that FOX Sports 1 does point standing updates does take away from the race.  On NBC broadcasts, point updates are a vertical drop down bar below the scoring bar.  I personally don't find that intrusive.

On FOX Sports broadcasts, they put the point standings in the FOX Box, then show them from three or four laps at a time.  I don't particularly like it because it makes it harder to figure out where everyone's running.  Remember, we're assuming the obvious truth that permanent on-screen scoring displays are being used as a crutch by the networks.  Also, note that this was done multiple times during the broadcast as well.  FOX Sports 1 needs to find a better way to show the points as they run so that fans can be better informed of where everyone is running.

Post-race coverage was pretty substantial since FOX Sports 1 needed to properly tease the Chase.  As a result, viewers were provided with interviews with all eight chasers in order to properly tease the whole shebang.  Honestly, I found a lot of the commentary that claimed that the Chase format is superior for the Truck Series to be garbage.  There was nothing wrong with the championship format prior to this year.

Overall, the Chase focus likely did hurt the broadcast.  It made it harder to figure out where everyone was running.  Ultimately, it was a non-story since next to nothing could have been done to change the status quo entering the race.  Custer was the closest to breaking in, but even he needed to win the dang thing to do it.

Having this dang Chase around obscures other stories as well.  Despite saying that, I thought the chaps in the pits did quite well with what they were given and the racing was at least slightly enjoyable.  Sadly, I'm not really looking forward to what the Chase is going to do to the series over the remaining seven races.

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at
Frontstretch Line of the Week
From Beyond the Cockpit: Mike Bugarewicz Guiding Tony Stewart in Final Chase Run

"We didn't start out the season talking because he was getting his feet wet, trying to learn about his deal and the same on my side. I think it was around Pocono in June when we started to communicate more. We just started to touch base, trying to get a feel of what each other's doing each week. At this point, it's a pretty good relationship." - Mike Bugarewicz, on the relationship with his future driver, Clint Bowyer

by Clayton Campbell and Sean Fesko

by Huston Ladner

by Joseph Wolkin

by Bryan Gable

by Dustin Albino

by Toni Montgomery

Q: New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosted four CART races back in the 1990's.  They're not particularly memorable (the last one saw Andre Ribeiro earn his first career win in 1995.)  The 1994 Slick 50 200 saw Scott Sharp make a memorable exit from the race.  What happened?

Check back Friday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  In 2001, Robby Gordon earned his first Winston Cup win at New Hampshire by getting past Jeff Gordon late.  What were the circumstances surrounding that pass?

A: The previous caution set up one of those situations with a bunch of drivers on the tail-end of the lead lap and the actual leaders restarting mid-pack.  Robby Gordon was able to pass Sterling Marlin to take the lead, then lost it when he got blocked by the slower Kyle Petty.

Later, Robby ran Jeff back down with 16 laps to go and gave him a bump in turn 3.  That pushed Jeff into Mike Wallace, spinning Wallace out and drawing a yellow.  The incident can be seen here.

Jeff Gordon was very unhappy with Robby Gordon's actions and bumped him under caution.  Knowing today's enforcement of rules, it might be considered shocking that NASCAR black-flagged Jeff Gordon for this and parked him for a lap.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the Sprint Cup Series' Bad Boy Off Road 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway while also providing news from Thursday.

We'll have Four Burning Questions for you to think about heading into this weekend's action in Loudon.
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